Interview with CASSANDRA

SBS:  CASSANDRA!  Welcome to our pages my friend.  Welcome to the music-scene in general I suppose eh?  From what I can tell and what I’ve been reading about in my research on ya, you’re just getting this whole career of yours going, with your first single officially having dropped towards the end of last year – and you’ve already kicked off 2021 on all the right notes with two new excellent tunes “Drinking Games” and your latest, “Like You.”  I gotta say CASSANDRA – you’ve definitely got the spark!  Love what I’m hearing in what I’ve heard so far and everything coming through my speakers sounds like nothing but green lights ahead for you in the future.

So…I mean…I guess that leaves us with the obvious question that has to be asked after reading the press release I’ve got on ya here…because there was a detail in there that really stood out to me that I think will help clear up the entire mystery of how you got to be where you are at for us all.  Am I reading this correctly CASSANDRA – without a worldwide pandemic, you wouldn’t even BE here right now?  “It wasn’t until the Coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in 2020 that she found what she loved most about the creative process of music” is what I’m reading here.  Score one for isolated times, finally!  Good stories in the pandemic era are rare, but if it’s brought you to your passions & destiny as an artist, then you clearly ARE one yourself!  And we’d love to hear about it – help us understand this all a lil’ bit…what was it that you actually discovered during the Covid-era that encouraged you to take your talents to the next-level?

CASSANDRA:  Thank you for this interview! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my music so far. I’ve been studying classical music my entire life and allowing it to develop my voice, but I’ve always had a passion for pop and pop country music too. It wasn’t until the pandemic that I had the courage and the time to put my song ideas into music, so I’m grateful that I took a leap of faith with myself! Releasing my original music and working with my incredible team in Nashville has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I think I had trouble knowing where to start in pop music and the pop music business and since the classical world was treating me kindly, I never strayed from that path. It wasn’t until I had the quiet time of introspection found in social isolation that I realized there was more I wanted to do within the music world. My mentor, friend, and co-writer, Bryan Ruby, took me under his wing and helped me find resources to start learning more about the music business, my artistic voice, and how to start up my music career. Let alone his incredible writing skills, he has been one of my biggest influences as I’ve started down this path, and I’m unbelievably grateful for him! I’m excited to keep pushing myself as I create new music and build a fanbase of people wanting to hear songs about real relationships and finding happiness. 

SBS:  Naturally, in learning about you and discovering you’re actually a professionally-trained Opera singer with a mighty impressive four-octave range, of course I expected to find the…umm…the uh…wait a second here…the Country stompin’ sound of “Drinking Games?”  No wait…that’s not it…I meant the…right…here it is…the stunningly sweet Pop sound of “Like You.”  Nope.  That’s not it either.  Okay…I guess the point is, in learning about your Opera training – where the heck is the Opera part?  Don’t get me wrong – I can hear the skills in your voice – but I’m just saying…on a musical level, there’s a severe lack of…well…anything Opera at all here, isn’t there?  Sometimes this kinda stuff makes sense in how it doesn’t make sense at all, you dig?  Like my own aunt…she went to school for years & years to become a lawyer…and by the time she was one, she realized that was exactly what she didn’t want to be anymore.  I am 100% guessing based on the strengths of your vocals that, if you choose to pursue Opera, the whole genre at-large will be more than happy to have ya…but for now, it seems you’ve chosen a different direction.  Is it as simple as that style of music being a tougher one to sell to the modern-day world of short attention spans and massive deficits in cultural appreciation – or did you have different reasons to make the music you’re making in a variety of styles outside of the Opera realm?  Whatever the reasons might be – I’m sure you still find a way to make use of what you’ve learned as well – so tell us everything you can CASSANDRA – how does/doesn’t your time spent immersed in Opera help you in your music now?

CASSANDRA:  My appreciation for music history and vocal technique have been enriched while studying this art form and my knowledge of music theory and character building have been strengthened in my studies. Although I have found this fulfilling throughout my life, I’ve always been drawn toward other genres of music in my listening and knew that I wanted to write my own music in these genres. I felt a pull toward the creativity of composition and knew I had to try it. I’m so glad I did! I have found a new invigorating passion in music since beginning my pop journey and I’m excited to see where it takes me. It certainly sounds nothing like my opera music, but I’ve found that keeping these types of singing separate not only makes sense for my vocal technique, but also allows me to fulfill different sides of my creative energy.

SBS:  I love the character, personality, and charisma you bring to each of these singles you’ve got out there so far, and I actually really dig how widespread the sound between each song genuinely is as well.  There’s not only a ton of diversity in the tunes you’ve put out – but it also proves immediately, to any of us listening, that you’re more than capable of thriving within several styles & sounds out there in the scene.  And…*checks notes* – and you’re only 20?  Good lord CASSANDRA!  The world is your oyster!  I’ll say this – if this is Opera, it’s never sounded this great to me – and secondly…again, you’re only 20?  Clearly all the training & lessons you’ve taken are paying off – and it’s equally clear that you would have had a ton of natural talent to begin with; by the time we get to hear you on “Wicked Ways” for the first time & form our own impressions of ya, you already sound undeniably professional in every conceivable way!  Alright…so…obviously I’ve been having fun with the Opera thing and I’m sure you get that by now – but from what I can read here in my notes as well, you’re actually quite serious about it up to this very day – you’re currently enrolled at the New England Conservatory Of Music studying Classical Voice and Opera as far as I’ve learned here – so really, what IS that like?  Take us through a day in the life of CASSANDRA at the ol’ Conservatory.  Fun stuff?  All serious?  Is it fair to assume there will one day be an Opera album by you in the future?  Would there be any twists you could make to such a classic style & renowned sound that would, or could, make it a bit more accessible for the masses listening out there?

CASSANDRA:  I love this question! Life at the conservatory has been quite different this past year since I’m studying remotely from Florida, but when I was in Boston my days were filled with choir, language classes, diction classes, vocal lessons, music history, music theory, a sight-reading and tonality class called solfege, and others. I also used to take pre-med classes at Tufts in my sophomore year, but due to COVID, have not been able to continue those classes. The days are certainly jam packed with singing and studying with bits of Boston city-life in between, but I love it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever cross over into the opera-pop world, but it could be a fun experiment! However, I do hope to use my influence within the pop world to encourage people to listen to more classical music. It’s a beautiful art form that I’ve loved performing for years and plan to keep in my life!

SBS:  Help us draw a line from point-A to point-B when it comes to your success in the future to come CASSANDRA.  I think a ton of people out there are reading this right now – and of those people, a certain percentage of them are at where you were just at not too long ago – wondering about that next step & whether or not to take it, or even how to take it in many circumstances.  And of course, it’s never just as simple as deciding to be an artist & then the rest magically falls into place, no matter how talented any of us are…the path is usually a heck of a lot more crazy & crooked to navigate than a simple straight line forward.  From your perspective CASSANDRA – what does success look like to you when it comes to your music & career, and in terms of the challenges ahead, what will you have to do in order to achieve your goals?  Is a hit single going to be enough for ya? Awards & accolades from one side of the map to the other?  Platinum records hanging on the wall behind ya?  A modest fan-base of loyal listeners?  What will it take for you personally to feel like all of what you do & the effort you put in will all be worth it?

CASSANDRA:  To me, success is a growing process. I find joy in making progress and striving to achieve more. I never find myself feeling that something is “good enough” and although this is a tough mindset, it has fulfilled me in everything I’ve done in my life. I think I will be happy when I see myself making a lasting change in the world with my music. I hope to create an audience that values real relationships, inner confidence, and self-actualization. I want to inspire others to create a better life for themselves. I’ve already begun doing this on my social media, particularly my Instagram and TikTok @youknowcassandra, where I create content and livestream to bring awareness to these ideas through my fans. The more I see this community grow, the happier I’ll be.

SBS:  So here’s where I’m at.  In listening to “Wicked Ways” the first thing that caught my attention was the uniqueness of your voice.  In listening to “Drinking Games” my first impression was initially the shock of how different it was from “Wicked Ways” and what I would have expected, but once I absorbed all that, it was entirely easy to recognize you’ve got another stellar single there as well.  Then I listened to the most recent single, “Like You,” and the first thought that came to my mind was – THAT…is the one.  Not just a great tune, but one that really felt like & sounded extremely well suited & natural to you.  And then it got me thinking…and then I went back and listened to all three all over again…and…am I listening to these correctly here CASSANDRA?  Not only are these three fairly different tunes in terms of sound & style, but they also kinda put out like, three different versions of your personality too as well, wouldn’t you say?  Or three different pieces of the person you are overall somehow?  Help us all narrow this down a bit…or feel free to keep the mystery intact if ya like, it’s always up to you – but which of these three songs would you say comes closest to the person you are?  Is it fair to say that any one track you’ll ever write would ever be any less ‘you’ than anything else?  Know what I mean?  Clearly each song we write will always have a part of us in them – but how much of the real ‘you’ is finding its way into your music?  Is it important for you personally to have a lot of your true self invested into the lyrics & themes of your songs – or is making music about something a whole lot more than that from your perspective?

CASSANDRA:  I definitely have had fun exploring topics and characters within my music. “Wicked Ways” was a statement about what I strongly dislike in today’s dating world. The character I assumed is one that I have seen in the dating world and have seen hurt my friends in the dating world. I certainly don’t act like that but wanted to raise awareness to the topic of toxic and manipulative dating partners in a fun and spunky way. This song reminded me a bit of the story behind Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy. “Drinking Games” was certainly more of my persona, but an angry version for sure. I feel strongly about the idea of having the inner confidence to turn down a late-night drunken hookup call if you feel it will make you unhappy. If hookup culture is wanted, then go for it, but I wrote this song for all of the people that are sick of feeling like they have to have hookups in order to find love, despite not wanting that kind of relationship. I think “Drinking Games” really hit on my values of standing up for myself and making conscious decisions to benefit my happiness. “Like You” was definitely the most “me” song I’ve released so far. I’m a sucker for the excitement of having a crush and the bridge of this song is actually a direct quote from me in conversation with my co-writers, Bryan Ruby and Fran Litterski. I was talking about the song topic with Bryan and Fran and said “I swear boys can be so dumb sometimes. I mean you just want to beat them over the head with it and say, ‘I LIKE YOU, like seriously! How do you not get that by now?’ Ugh!”  Needless to say, we immediately knew that had to be the bridge! I think I’m learning more about my artistic voice with each song I write and sing and am hoping to show even more of my true self in my music soon, while having a bit of fun with the characters I represent. Studying opera and my early days of musical theater have certainly given me a passion for theatrics, so I’ve had fun weaving this into my original music. 

SBS:  Who are the artists out there that you’d specifically point to as being trailblazers for the path you’d want to choose for yourself with your career?  Is there anyone you can see out there that makes you stop & think – I wouldn’t even be doing what I do, if not for ________ breaking so much ground years ago?  In general – how important would you say it is for an artist or band out there in today’s world to stay connected to all the tangled roots & history of music…is that even necessary?  When all is said & done CASSANDRA…I know you’re just getting started & all…but years down the road…how will you want to be remembered when it comes to the music you make?  How will you leave your mark in its history?

CASSANDRA:  My role models range from Dua Lipa to Carrie Underwood to Ella Fitzgerald to Fletcher to Ariana Grande to Lady Gaga to Beyoncé to Mariah Carey. I think these strong female personas and vocals have encouraged me to pursue my passions throughout my life and find what I want to show about myself in my music. In terms of staying connected to the roots of music, I certainly think learning from the greats is important as I learn more about songwriting and my own voice, but artists have to be careful to avoid copycat syndrome. I love having influences from great female artists, but also am working hard to develop my own sound and message in my music. As my music is released and remembered, I hope to leave a positive mark on the world that encourages others to create happier situations for themselves in life. Of course, I hope people remember my voice and my range, but to me, making music is about reaching others and less about celebrating my voice. I want my vocals to be as great as possible so I can have freedom to express my thoughts, but above all, I want to inspire others to get up and choose to lead a happy, healthy life. For me, I have found this in investing time in my studies, music, family, and health. I hope my story can inspire others to find their own inner spark and chase it with everything they have inside. 

SBS:  You’ve made it!  I know, I know, I know…I ramble a lot – so thank-you for putting up with it all my friend!  It’s been fantastic to listen & learn about you CASSANDRA – and I’m stoked to hear where you’ll take your music & career from here; you’ve got limitless potential and possibilities in front of ya.  As we do with all our interviews, I’d like to offer you the ol’ SBS Open Floor here at the end, to say anything else you’d like the people out there to know about ya, anything we didn’t cover here in this interview, or anything else at all that comes to mind.  The floor is yours CASSANDRA – thanks again for everything!

CASSANDRA:  Thank you so much for having me! This has been such a fun interview. What I’d like to leave with everyone is my favorite personal quote, “Doors open and close all the time, but if you’re never looking for a door, you’ll never see one.” Life is unpredictable but we can always create better opportunities for ourselves if we go out and search for them. Take my story of discovering my pop voice as an example, find your inner fire, and go get it!

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